Days of Heaven (1978)

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Released 3-Jul-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1978
Running Time 89:54
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Terrence Mallick
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Richard Gere
Brooke Adams
Sam Shepard
Linda Manz
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Ennio Morricone


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Portuguese
Hebrew
Greek
Croatian
Italian
Spanish
Slovenian
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Set in the early 1900s, this film portrays the story of Bill (Richard Gere: The Mothman Prophecies: 2002, Pretty Woman: 1990, An Officer and a Gentleman: 1982,  American Gigolo: 1980), a steel worker in Chicago. After an incident with a supervisor at his workplace, Bill and sister Linda (Linda Manz) along with his girlfriend Abby (Brooke Adams: Gas Food Lodging: 1992, The Dead Zone: 1983, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Remake): 1978) travel away from Chicago by train to Texas to start a new life as itinerant field workers. Ending up in the wheat fields of a rich farmer (Sam Shepard: The Pelican Brief: 1993, Thunderheart: 1992, Paris, Texas: 1984, and cinema classic The Right Stuff: 1983), The three begin work in the fields with Bill and Abby pretending to be brother and sister for the sake of "convenience". This turns out to be more trouble that it's worth as The Farmer, who is suffering from a terminal illness, turns his longing eye to the attractive Abby. With the opportunity to better their lives through the circumstances at hand, Abby agrees to take The Farmer's hand in marriage with the hope that she and Bill will be reunited in times to come. But things don't always go to plan and unforeseen issues play with the forlorn triangle. This becomes a tale of love, sacrifice, betrayal, pain, death and hope. But for whom?

    Narrated by Bill's sister Linda, we are taken on a journey in the lives of our four main characters; and what a journey it is!  This is not a normal picture with the usual conflict/resolution scenario that we seen all too often. Rather, it is almost a "slice of lives", centering on our four main characters. Given muted and rather natural roles, our main cast play it real with scenery and story all aiding the film. Some scenes have the actors talking, but with the noise about them raging so as you are unable to hear the dialogue. This is intended by the director, as we are to be the passive observers of the story. You don't need to understand everything that occurs in real life and so it is the case here. Director Terrence Malick intentionally draws the viewer into the world of our main characters, and in fact dialogue plays a secondary role in this picture as the story is told by the actors and the cinematographer (Nestor Almendros: Billy Bathgate: 1991, Places in the Heart: 1984, Sophie's Choice: 1982, Kramer vs Kramer: 1979. Nestor Almendros deservedly won the Academy Award for Cinematography for this film which is a visual tour-de-force) who give the story a sometimes wordless quality. The result is a film like no other. The dialogue is sparse, the jumps from various times in the story to others is sometimes sudden and lines between hero and villain completely blurred to the point of irrelevance. This is a story of people; good or bad, right or wrong with all facing damnation or salvation: it is all here. This is one of the most beautifully photographed motion pictures that this reviewer has had the pleasure of seeing. It is a film definitely worth seeing if for some reason you may have missed it. Highly recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    It is sad that while we have a standout cinematic feature with some of the most breathtaking photography ever committed to film (see 4:27, 6:44 and 57:26 for examples), that the transfer to DVD is quite bad.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced, a slight but acceptable variance from the theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

    We have a fairly poor transfer to DVD here, so the level of sharpness does suffer. On the surface, the transfer looks okay but dig a little deeper and you will find layer after layer of flaws. The sharpness level is fairly ordinary given the amount of grain, edge enhancement and pixelization seen with this title. Shadow detail is not overly clear with some darker scenes just a sea of black. There are several night scenes in this film and all feature little detail.

    Despite this film's age, the quality of the colour seems to have withstood the test of time with a fairly natural image presented. There is some chroma noise during some scenes, with 54:34 being a stand-out example. There is also some tapestry effect visible at 25:45.

    The level of MPEG artefacting in this transfer is quite bad. Both pixelization and macro blocking are excessively present. In regards to pixelization, stand-out times can be seen at: 4:16, 4:34, 9:18, and 26:08. Also, macro blocking is a problem. This artefact can be seen at: 38:04, 58:07, and 76:42. Edge enhancement is a real problem for this transfer with prominent examples at: 4:27 on the bridge, 9:23 on the scarecrow and 19:08 on the blacksmiths. These are only sample times as these artefacts can all be seen throughout the movie. There is also some telecine wobble that can be seen, such as at 59:45. Film artefacts are seen regularly during this feature and consist mostly of small white specks and nicks. These are not overly pervasive, but are visible throughout the entire feature. Grain is fairly evident throughout. There are also some quite noticeable jumps in the image where it seems as if the film hops out of its frame momentarily. This can be seen at 9:25, amongst other places in the film.

    There are several subtitle options available and a sampling of the English subtitle option revealed very accurate text whilst not being completely word for word.

    This is a single layered disc and as such there are no layer change issues with this title. One does wonder what this transfer would have looked like if it were committed to a dual-layered DVD. Still, with the fairly short running time of this title, a single layer should have been sufficient.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Among the various audio options is a reasonably good English Dolby Digital 5.1 track that services the film well. This film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound in 1978 against the likes of Superman and The Deer Hunter, which went on to win the award. Spanish, French and Italian are all also catered for with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded audio tracks. There is a constant tape hiss that can be heard throughout the film and while not completely distracting, it is there.

    Dialogue quality is very good although not always understandable. This is done intentionally by the director at times with background and foreground noise sometimes drowning out the a particular character or character's lines.

    Audio sync is fine with no major issues of note.

    The film's music was composed by popular film composer Ennio Morricone ( Bugsy: 1991, The Untouchables: 1987, The Mission: 1986. The scores for all these films were nominated for Academy Awards). Even if you haven't seen this film, you would have heard music from this film - it is a lovely string and harp-oriented score. Music is used sparingly during this title with some passages of the film without score. This is sometimes more effective than using a score to steer the viewer into an emotional direction when the acting and story are doing it already. A great use of score and restraint by the composer and director.

    While this film has been remastered into Dolby Digital 5.1 English, the audio for this feature is mostly forward oriented with little action from the surround channels. This, like the film's score, seems to be intended as overuse of the rears with this title could have been distracting. They do get used, but as they should and that is in total service to the film. There is some use of the rears with a stand-out time being at 52:16.

    As with the surround channels, so is the case of the low frequency channel. It gets a bit more use that the rears with it being called for during some of the musical passages. Every once and a while we do get some serious activity from the subwoofer with 2:30 being a prime example. Again, a restrained audio mix that serves the picture well.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This is a very plain disc with only a Theatrical Trailer available as an extra.

Menu

    This title begins with a menu giving the viewer an option of nine languages. Selecting each different language option will offer the viewer a menu layout in the language selected. That means, for example, that if you selected Italian, you will be taken to an Italian copyright warning before the start of the picture and all menus selected by the viewer will be in Italian. Very useful for non-English speakers.

    The Main Menu offers the standard options with little of real stand-out note. The Main Menu options are:

    Audio Options offers the viewer 4 languages to choose from: English, Spanish, French and Italian. This menu is presented full screen with pictures from the film as wallpaper. The menu is silent, static, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The Subtitles page is similarly themed to the one described above with a total of 9 subtitles on offer. This menu is silent, static, and 16x9 enhanced.

    The Scene Selection menu offers the viewer 3 pages covering the 10 chapters of the film. Static images from between 2 and 4 chapters are on screen with chapter titles under each static image from the respective chapter. The images are sufficiently large to be of reasonable value and the chapter titles are fairly readable. This menu is, as with the rest, silent, static, and 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is the original Theatrical Trailer presented with quite a fair amount of grain and film artefacts. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0. The running time for this trailer is 1:57.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This title has been released in R1 in what seems to be the form we have here. The extras (such as they are) are the same as our R4 disc with the only differences being audio and subtitle options. Given the bare-bones status of this title in both R4 and R1, this reviewer would rate these as a draw with a bias towards the R4 disc in regards to the PAL transfer and affordability.

Summary

    This is a real classic of a film with first-rate acting, breathtaking cinematography, a fantastic musical score and sublime direction from Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line: 1998, Badlands: 1973). Despite the poor quality of the transfer to DVD, this reviewer must rate this as at least a must-see, although you may choose to merely rent this title until a better transfer becomes available and/or a Special Edition is released. Regardless, this is a DVD that I can easily recommend and if you are a fan of fine cinema or just like to watch movies, this is one that you will really want to see. Try to see past the transfer faults and just enjoy the film. I did, and will do so again.

    The video quality is quite bad with many MPEG and transfer faults along with quite a bit of edge enhancement and grain. Not a pretty transfer, but a beautiful film.

    The audio is good with both an Academy Award Nominated soundtrack and score. Although you can hear a hiss throughout this picture, the sound works well in concert with the happenings on screen.

    The extras are almost nonexistent with only a Theatrical Trailer on offer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Saturday, June 15, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic A300-MU, using S-Video output
DisplayHitachi CP-L750W LCD Projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2090
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
masterpiece........so why? - wolfgirv REPLY POSTED
Overseas reviews - John Edmond REPLY POSTED